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Beware The Common Mistakes Doctors Make When Searching For A Medical Ad Agency

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

"Right decision" and "Wrong decision" street signs with blue skies7 Criteria You MUST Consider When Looking For Health Care Marketing Talent

(And how to avoid falling victim to "Marketing Malpractice")

Doctors often tell us about their difficulties with finding and evaluating healthcare marketing talent. So we thought we'd give you a "cheat sheet" to help you.

Before we do that, however, let's set the stage.

By and large, most providers are a scientific, pragmatic bunch. They look for results, and are not impressed with smoke and mirrors.

The trouble is, they complain, few marketers seem to speak their same language.

Why? One of the "little secrets" is the fact many marketers are either administrators who worked their way up through the ranks somewhere, or frustrated writers or artists who'd rather be writing the Great American Novel, painting, or some other "serious" creative endeavor.

Even if they are smart and well intended, many of these people focus on what is pretty or clever, rather than what actually works in the marketplace.

That's not to say that great talent doesn't exist. It's just that the best 5 percent are highly sought after, always very busy, and usually very expensive.

If you've made poor choices in the past, don't beat yourself up.

Believe me, you are not alone. Even marketing executives rarely bat above 300 when picking creative talent. A lot of people show well (after all, they're marketers), but then turn out to be disappointing.

Remember, anyone can call himself a "marketer" - there is no license required.

So what can you do?

To avoid costly mistakes, here are some criteria you should consider when evaluating professional marketing services:

  1. Ask them to reveal the number of businesses they have worked with previously. If they haven't worked with at least 200organizations, they simply haven't seen enough campaigns to know what really works in the marketplace. Their experience will be anecdotal, and their advice will be mere opinion, not evidence-based.
  2. Ask about their marketing training and education. You may be very surprised to learn that a very high percentage of marketers have ZERO formal marketing training. They instead "picked it up" along the way.
  3. Ask about their marketing experience. Beyond private practices, who have they helped previously and what were the results?
  4. Ask about campaigns they are most proud of, and why. If they talk about pretty, creative, awards or anything other than results, this is not the right person for you.
  5. Ask about their continuing education. Since there are no continuing ed requirements for marketers, an embarrassingly high percentage of marketers haven't read a marketing book since college. If your would-be vendor can't instantly list recent books he's read, conferences she's attended, etc., run, don't walk. (Would you trust a doctor who hasn't opened a book in twenty years?)
  6. Make sure you understand differences in marketing skill sets, and hire accordingly. Do you need a writer, a graphic designer, an account manager, a publicist, a marketing strategist, or what? These are all different areas of expertise. (Hint: graphic designers rarely bring you enough marketing firepower on their own. They work best as part of the team.)
  7. Chemistry. You must like and trust the people you are working with. In order for you to be effective, you must feel a sense of partnership.

So whether or not we ever get the chance to meet you, you owe it to yourself to evaluate would-be vendors against the above criteria. After all, this is your reputation and hard-earned money we are talking about. By the way, we'll be glad to have you evaluate us according to the same "acid test."

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Marketing a healthcare organization can be challenging - even painful if you don't approach it with the right knowledge, tools, and guidance. By reading about mistakes and lessons others have learned the hard way, you can boost your marketing effectiveness and take a shortcut to success. Discover how to avoid these "Seven Deadly Sins". Plus, join over 30,000 of your fellow healthcare providers with a free subscription to our Insight Newsletter.

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